Two years ago, Nancy and I drove to the bank, plopped down a check, and paid off our home.  Two years ago, we became completely debt free.  We laughed, we cried, and we took pictures as we celebrated.

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We went out to see a movie (complete with a large popcorn and large soda), we went to dinner at the Angus Barn, and we celebrated.  A few weeks later, we went on the Dave Ramsey show and did our Debt Free Scream, the first debt free scream of 2013.

It’s been quite a ride since then.  In the two years since then…

Saba Rock

– We traveled the British Virgin Islands in a private yacht
– We saved a bunch of money for retirement, including opening a SEP-IRA for Nancy to complement our Roth IRA’s
– We sponsored another child through Compassion International
– We opened a donor-advised fund through National Christian Foundation
– We visited Nicaragua twice (2013, 2014)
– I launched my financial coaching business
– I resigned from my position at the church to pursue my passion and for us to live a unique life
We’re having a baby! Baby Ray coming in May, 2014!

Life has moved right along on pace!  We’ve learned so much in these last two years, and I’m so, so thankful.  There’s a number of things I’ve learned, and I thought I might share a few today:

– When you pay off your home, that doesn’t mean that stacks of cash are just gonna start piling up around your house, and you’ll be making it rain all night long.  Money is still finite.  Just because we ridded ourselves of one payment doesn’t mean we’re all the sudden “high rollers.”

– We had more “heated money discussions” [read: arguments] in the first six months of complete debt freedom than we had in 32 months of paying off our home.  We were working out how we were going to live!  What about our life is going to change, now that we’re debt free?  How do we give like we want to, increase our lifestyle, and keep saving for retirement, travel, and a new home one day?

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows – we had to have some hard discussions to get on the same page about money.

– Those discussions prompted Nancy to think a lot about money, and one day she turned to me and said, “You know, I think contentment is the key to financial success.”  From there, she went on a 90-day Contentment Challenge, which has inspired many people to take the challenge to stop buying “stuff” for a period of time, and try contentment on for size.

– I’ve learned a lot about contentment, too.  Nancy was absolutely right when she said that about contentment.  It really is the key.  No matter how much money you make, if you’re not content, you’ll never make real progress.  You’ll spin your wheels forever.  Why do you think pro athletes file for bankruptcy at rates higher than the national average?  It’s not a lack of funds; it’s a lack of contentment!

If, with everything that Nancy and I have achieved financially, we decided tomorrow that we were not content with what we had, we could ruin all of the progress we’ve made in no time flat!  Contentment is something that will allow you to make real progress in your financial life.

– We’ve had a lot of fun since paying off our home – a LOT.  We eat out more, have more blow money, go on regular dates, go bigger on birthdays and at Christmas, travel by ourselves and with family, and really enjoy our money.  And we’ll continue to!  But with all that we’ve been able to do and enjoy, the greatest joy we’ve had with our money is giving.  It’s the most fulfilling thing of all!  It’s not that “we’re so great” for giving money away, it’s just the truth that giving is greater than consuming.

– We’ve decided we never, ever want to go back.  God willing, we will never be under the bondage of debt again, and we’re going to make choices to do our best to ensure that.  When we buy another home, it will be in cash.  If (when) we adopt, we’ll do it with cash and perhaps donations.  We will save up and pay for our cars.  We’re saving now for having a baby!  While we’ve been a little drawn in by “house envy” as we see what is out there and what people have, the memory of loan qualification and having debt over our heads is a strong enough force to make us very thankful for our little town home.

It’s been a great two years.  There’s more to come, and a lot more to learn, but we’re thankful for how far we’ve come!

Thanks to Nancy Ray for the images in this post!